At the last meeting, the Rushford City Council learned that longtime Rushford Ambulance Director Lynn Humble would retire effective mid-June. The city posted the vacancy internally, and one applicant came forward. On May 18, the Personnel Committee of Mayor Terri Benson, and Councilor Jim O’Donnell, with Humble, City Administrator Tony Chladek, and City Clerk Kathy Zacher met with applicant Joseph (Joey) Busse.
The meeting highlighted Busse’s work history, which includes nearly eight years as a registered nurse/case manager at Good Shepherd Home and 12 years prior, as a nurse unit or charge nurse. He’s been a member of the Rushford Ambulance Service since January 2022. In addition, he is a nationally registered emergency medical technician (EMT)/rescue driver. Busse intends to become a CPR and EMT trainer in the new position.
“I think he’s excited to get this position,” said O’Donnell.
“It’s been a goal of his to become a director,” said Benson.
Zacher indicated Busse’s original intent was to work full-time as a paramedic. However, he went another route with a nursing degree. While he’s been certified as an EMT since 1996, Zacher noted he would have likely gone straight into emergency service, without other obligations.
The council approved the hiring unanimously, effective June 23. Busse will meet the council at the June meeting.
The council also approved giving Fire Chief Chad Rasmussen and officers Pail Corcoran and Nick Smith authorization to purchase a Chief’s Rescue Rig and to retrofit a fire station bay.
The rig was scheduled for replacement in 2025. A new one costs $1.2 million, so the department searched for a suitably used rig to avoid the high replacement cost. They located a used rig for sale by the Cloquet Fire Department. The authorization gives the department authority to purchase it if the truck meets the needs and passes inspection. The cost is $280,000.
“It’s twice the truck for what we need,” noted Rasmussen. The department can’t currently carry all the necessary equipment; what they can take is packed into every nook and cranny. “This goes on every call. It’s the first truck on the scene and gives us our initial attack.”
The only downside is that it can’t fit through the fire station overhead doors. Estimates show the department can retrofit the door for $15,000.
Once a replacement is found, the current rig will be sold with just the built-in extrication tools. It’s estimated it will bring in $40,000. The new truck, if purchased, is expected to serve the department for 20 years.
“I think we need to look at numbers. I have a hard time believing these replacement numbers are accurate,” added Rasmussen. “Finding trucks under a million is tough. This is an overall better truck for what we need and for how things are changing.”
In other news, the city received a clean audit from Jason Boynton, Principal Smith Schafer & Associates. The General Fund shows an unassigned balance of $952,886, or 116% of general fund expenditures. It’s recommended cities have more than half their annual expenditures set aside. While there is no target ratio, Rushford’s dropped far below half around 2007 and has gradually been built back up. Still, the percentage now did cause some concern.
“It’s something to keep an eye on,” said Benson. “It seems excessive, in my opinion.”
“I agree,” said Councilor Sally Ryman. “There’s some place in the middle to shoot for.”
The Capital Improvement Fund balance is $867,195 and is available for future needs. Water and Sewer Enterprise Funds currently support $2.88 million in revenue bonds. Outstanding general obligation bonds total $7.85 million, including $2.4 million for the recently completed Highway 30 street and utility improvement project.
“There’s a lot that goes on in a city. It’s a lot to keep track of,” said Boynton. All your funds are healthy. You’re proactive in planning, setting aside dollars for improvements, and looking ahead. Hopefully, it’s appreciated by the community.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is Monday, June 12, at 6:30 p.m. at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.